For the last six months, the Orca Task Force has been grappling with several big and contentious issues. The final set of recommendations released today are good and will move the state in the right direction, but they are not enough to prevent the extinction of our orcas. This set of recommendations lays a foundation upon which the state can build.

But if we are serious about meeting the goal of 10 new orcas in 10 years, the state must increase funding for salmon recovery and habitat restoration. We must quickly and aggressively remove outdated and unneeded dams. We must fully protect and restore our rivers and floodplains, which includes limiting and removing harmful construction projects. And we must significantly decrease stormwater runoff by strategically installing largescale green stormwater infrastructure throughout our urban areas.

Our state can save our whales, but we need bold political leadership. The Task Force must continue meeting to discuss issues they weren’t able to tackle this year, including the impacts of increasing urban growth and development. If Governor Inslee and his Task Force hope to save these orcas, we need additional bold and broad actions. This set of recommendations is only a start.

 
— Robb Krehbiel, Orca Task Force Prey Working Group member and Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife
SEATTLE,
16
November
2018
|
07:19 PM
America/New_York

For Immediate Release

Orca Task Force Final Recommendations Good, Not Bold

Governor Jay Inslee’s emergency Orca Task Force released its final recommendations today. The recommendations include an increased commitment to funding salmon habitat restoration, increasing water spilled over dams in the Columbia Basin, creating a transition plan for southeast Washington if the Snake River dams are removed, banning emerging chemicals of concern, investing more to reduce stormwater runoff, and much more.

Robb Krehbiel, Orca Task Force Prey Working Group member and Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“For the last six months, the Orca Task Force has been grappling with several big and contentious issues. The final set of recommendations released today are good and will move the state in the right direction, but they are not enough to prevent the extinction of our orcas. This set of recommendations lays a foundation upon which the state can build.

“But if we are serious about meeting the goal of 10 new orcas in 10 years, the state must increase funding for salmon recovery and habitat restoration. We must quickly and aggressively remove outdated and unneeded dams. We must fully protect and restore our rivers and floodplains, which includes limiting and removing harmful construction projects. And we must significantly decrease stormwater runoff by strategically installing largescale green stormwater infrastructure throughout our urban areas.

“Our state can save our whales, but we need bold political leadership. The Task Force must continue meeting to discuss issues they weren’t able to tackle this year, including the impacts of increasing urban growth and development. If Governor Inslee and his Task Force hope to save these orcas, we need additional bold and broad actions. This set of recommendations is only a start.”

Background:

  • Defenders of Wildlife submitted this comment letter to the Orca Task Force on the recommendations.
  • In March, Governor Inslee issued an executive order directing seven agencies to prioritize orca conservation and direct more resources towards near-term recovery actions. These actions include identifying Chinook salmon runs to prioritize for restoration, reducing noise disturbance from Washington State Ferries, and ensuring that funding for stormwater mitigation is directed to projects that would assist in orca recovery.
  • Defenders of Wildlife has been working with diverse coalition partners to advance many of these goals. We have advocated for increased spill over dams in the Columbia Basin to restore this critical source of winter food. We recently piloted our Orcas Love Raingardens program in Tacoma, which aims to improve water quality in Commencement Bay, an important estuary for Puyallup and White River Chinook salmon. We have also advocated for accelerating efforts to remove sources of pollution from the Salish Sea, like derelict vessels and creosote, which can impact both orcas and salmon.
  • Only 74 individual Southern Resident orcas remain in the waters of Puget Sound, the lowest population count in decades.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.